Sunday, June 20, 2010

Who's got a little wee truck?

 Me!  I gots a wee little chip truck!

This morning I drove to Stormont Glengarry and Dundas Township, straight down Bank Street, through Winchester, with a car full of the smell of strawberries (thanks Rob!) to see the cheapest chip truck that's been on the market all spring- and the only one that has actually run out of the six I've visited. 

It ain't as flashy as the trailers, and it's gonna need some pretty fierce cleaning and a new ventilation hood and an extra water tank, and a paint job (but handily, the auto shop teacher who sold it to me knows a guy in the neighbourhood who will do it and who loves the Dodge Lime Green from the 1970's, and since I quite like the Sublime Green, I think that we'll get along just fine).  It needs work, but it's $25 000 less than the one that doesn't need work, and I can work for that kind of money. 

She's a littler truck than what I was planning on- 10' of cargo space vs. 14' like I'd hoped for, but I can work it for the year and get a bigger truck next summer.  I mean this baby DRIVES- and I can leave it down south until the beginning of August and work on it there until I have a place to put it- and I can leave it there for free...1979 GMC Grumman, originally owned by Eaton's as a delivery truck when I was a wee girl. Aluminum body, 4 cylinder inline, no idea how many klics, but the driving is really secondary.

Business plan and website are still on the workload, and feeling a bit wiped out today, but boy oh boy, am I glad to have an adorable little truck! Photos to follow!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Stone Soup Foodworks- my three minute pitch

Well, I am now in the Self-Employment benefits program, which is an absolutely fantastic program where I get some business training, HAVE to write a business plan, and am surrounded by other interesting entrepreneurs with passion and skills that are pretty fantastic- all while receiving Employment Insurance.  It amounts to a scholarship to start a business, and apparently the benefits to the economy are pretty great- getting us folks who ought to be self-employed off the streets means we really get to start making a living-and hiring people and all of that. 
Yesterday, we gave a little pitch to explain to the others what our business was all about. Since I am going to be getting funding soon, I put a bit of effort into making it convincing... Here's what I wrote, and what I said? Well, it was pretty close. It's a bit advertisy, but you know, I'm SELLING!

I am the chef owner of Stone Soup Foodworks, where we bring the community to the table, and the great food to the community.  I’ve developed my skills in the kitchen as a cook and chef presenter for the Red Apron, and I have been the head chef for the Dharma Center of Canada as well as catering events with seasonal, sustainably produced foods.  Before becoming a cook, I worked as a teacher and environmental technologist and when I became involved in the local foods movement, I saw the way to bring together my lifelong love of cooking with my passion for the environment and skills as an educator- in a business that combines fantastic food with my love of sustainability and my belief in the power of education.

Local and sustainable food is a very hot trend right now- the 2010 Chef’s Survey rated these two aspects of food as the hottest for the year, and the most likely to continue in the coming decade.  Stone Soup Foodworks will capitalize on this trend, creating tasty soups and salads with produce grown by Ottawa farmers.

Sustainable foods are currently more expensive than conventially produced foods as the methods include the costs of caring for the land, the water, and the farm and the farmers.  At the core of Stone Soup’s belief system is that everyone should be able to access good food- so combining quality with affordability is a key part of our strategy.  Since we don’t feel right about asking to pay farmers or our employees less, we save on our infrastructure costs by selling from our mobile kitchen in a converted chip truck.  Ultimately, we will be running on waste fry oil and solar panels, but to start out, it’s the grid and propane.  We will be selling to the well-educated and savvy government employees at one of the many campuses in Ottawa that are devoid of delicious and healthy lunch options.

The fantastic green truck will be selling scrumptious and seasonal soups and salads as well as treats and drinks from other local producers.  We will feature our producers on the website and the blackboard, and in the winter, our energies will turn to catering and educating people about cooking beautifully from scratch, preserving techniques like cellaring and canning, and Ottawa’s food system.  Next summer, we plan on adding a truck to attend festivals and later on developing courses to be taught in schools and workplaces that will help people to restore lost kitchen skills. We believe that food is an integral part of a healthy body, economy, ecology and society. 
Stone Soup Foodworks.  We make slow food.  And serve it fast.